Medical marijuana supporters claim victory
Backers of a medical marijuana constitutional amendment in Florida announced Wednesday evening that they have collected enough signatures to make the 2014 ballot.
Ben Pollara, the campaign manager for United for Care, sent out an email to supporters that organizers have collected more than 1.1 million signatures.
"This is an enormous achievement," Pollara wrote.
Organizers have until Feb. 1 to gather 683,189 voter signatures. So far election supervisors have certified nearly 458,000 signatures.
Groups pushing a constitutional amendment typically gather more signatures than needed in case some are rejected.
The collection of voter signatures isn't the only hurdle left for medical marijuana supporters. In order to make this year's ballot, the state Supreme Court must also approve the language that will go on the ballot.
Attorney General Pam Bondi is challenging the wording, saying voters will be misled into approving widespread use of medical marijuana.
Proponents say voters will clearly know they are deciding whether doctors can use their expertise to decide whether to prescribe the drug for debilitating conditions.
The court heard arguments last month and has until April to rule. It will not rule on whether it approves of medical marijuana, but rather whether the 74-word ballot summary is misleading. Citizen initiatives are limited to 75 words when summing up a proposed constitutional amendment.
Twenty states and the District of Columbia have laws allowing medical use of marijuana.
If the court approves the wording, the amendment needs a yes vote from 60 percent of the voters in order to pass.
Pollara in his email was already calling on supporters to "shift this now into campaign mode" and asking people to volunteer or give money to "educate the millions of Florida voters who will hopefully be allowed to have a choice in November."
The campaign for medical marijuana is being bankrolled extensively by John Morgan of the Morgan & Morgan personal injury law firm. Former Gov. Charlie Crist, who is running for governor as a Democrat against Republican incumbent Gov. Rick Scott, works at the firm.
Morgan has said he's taken on the cause because he's seen the benefit of using the drug. His father had esophageal cancer and his brother is a quadriplegic.
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